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In a NASCAR Cup Series career that has spanned 23 seasons, Harvick has accumulated 60 victories in NASCAR’s premier series, tied with Kyle Busch for most among active drivers.
The 47-year-old Stewart-Haas Racing driver has announced he will retire from full-time competition after the 2023 season to spend more time with family and to pursue a career as a television analyst.
Growing up in Bakersfield, Kevin Harvick was an athlete, first and foremost. He was an outstanding high school wrestler, but he also competed in baseball, basketball, football and soccer.
After getting a go-kart as a kindergarten graduation gift, Harvick began racing karts. While still in high school, he graduated to late model stock cars in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series.
Next came a ride with Spears Motorsports in the Winston West Series. In 1998 Harvick won five races on the way to the series title. In 2000, Harvick signed with Richard Childress Racing to drive in what was then the NASCAR Busch (now Xfinity) Series.
Harvick won three races and finished third in the series standings in his first season with Childress before reaching the first major turning point in his career early in 2001.
The last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 changed the entire sport of stock car racing and dramatically altered the course of Harvick’s life.
Running third as the he approached the final corners, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, the flagship driver on Childress’ Cup team, suffered a fatal crash into the outside wall at the 2.5-mile track.
Harvick was faced with the unenviable task of replacing Earnhardt in the following race at Rockingham, N.C. In deference to Earnhardt, the car number was changed from 3 to 29.
Two races later, Harvick won at Atlanta in his third Cup start. Despite missing the first race of the season, he finished ninth in the final Cup standings and earned rookie-of-the-year honors. That same year, Harvick won the first of his two NASCAR Xfinity Series championships.
Harvick spent 13 seasons with Childress, never winning more than five races in a season and never finishing higher than third in the standings, which he did in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
A move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 changed his fortunes once again.
Harvick joined close friend and owner/driver Tony Stewart at SHR and was paired with crew chief Rodney Childers. The combination proved formidable.
Harvick won five races and triumphed in the final two events of the season to claim his only Cup Series championship to date. In 2018 he won eight races and added a career-best nine to his total in the coronavirus-interrupted 2020 season.
Throughout his career, Harvick has shown a strong business acumen. He ran his own successful Xfinity and Truck Series team from 2001 through 2011.
Harvick and wife DeLana are principals in KHI Management, a sports and celebrity management company that represents drivers, PGA Tour golfers and UFC fighters.
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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